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Living Liturgy: a Year for Priests

Living Liturgy: a Year for Priests
The priest draws the faithful together around Christ Himself. Bishop Anthony Fisher OP (back) with (from left): Fr John McSweeney, Fr Warren Edwards, Fr Robert McGuckin, Deacon John Watkins, Fr Suresh Kumar MSFS and Fr Fernando Montano MG. Photo: David Tang

Julie Kelly
Living Liturgy with Julie Kelly
Catholic Outlook, June 2010

I hope it has been. I hope it has been a year of celebration for our priests but also a celebration of the witness of priests to us. I hope during this year many have gone up to their clergy and said “Thanks”.

Cardinal Mahoney said: “The priest must know how to evangelise, to catechise, to preach, to pray, to celebrate, to discern, but above all he must know how to draw all the members of the Catholic community together into communion and mutual service.” 1

And then secondary to all this, some clergy need to be able to administer a parish collaboratively with their community. In sum – a daunting task indeed.

There is only one Priest: Jesus Christ, the High Priest. This year celebrates first that the Priest is Jesus Christ. The Preface of the Ordination Rite tells us further that in order that this one priesthood of Christ should continue in the Church, Christ instituted the dignity of a royal priesthood through Baptism.

From the royal priesthood of the baptised, God chooses men to share in the sacred ministry, conferring on them the sacrament of orders.  Ordination promotes, realises and makes tangible the baptismal priesthood of the people of God.2

Ordination flows from Baptism and so a priest is called by the Holy Spirit and in the person of Christ to be, with his bishop, head and shepherd of his people, and servant of their faith.

The grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, like the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage, is given to enable a life lived in service of others.

At their ordination, they hear from their bishop: “Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and walk in the new life of Christ”3

Ordination is lived out in communion, in relationship with and for the baptised in loving service modeled on the interconnection of the relationships in the Trinity.4

We have celebrated in the Year for Priests this relationship lived out in the life of the ordained as he proclaims with authority the Word of God; gathers together the faithful, maintaining unity and celebrating the sacraments – initiating through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

The Eucharist being “source and summit” the priest draws the faithful together around Christ Himself.5

This Year for Priests has given us the opportunity as Church to reflect more deeply on the distinctive vocation of the priest. Let it not be the end of that reflection but ongoing so that a deep and meaningful relationship can continue to grow.

All priests need to know that we are indeed in communion when they are breaking bread and visible, and when they are less visible ministering to the sick and us sinners, and in prayer.

Let us be thankful and pray for our priests that they may be given the grace to live the life of holiness to which they are called.

Julie Kelly is Diocesan Co-ordinator for Sacraments of Initiation for Children & Adults (RCIA) and Officer for Liturgical Formation
Ph: 02 8838 3416


1 Cardinal Mahoney, Ministry is not an Abstraction, Origins, Vol 39.1

2 Pope John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis .17

3 Rite of Ordination 14

4 Pope John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis .12

5 Lumen Gentium 10.2

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